9.21.12 Issue #550 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Top 10 Time Wasters - Part 2
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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Dentists, as small business owners, sing the same chorus again and again: “There are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done.” Certainly, you only have so much time in the workday, and as the chief production officer, it’s critical that patient time be your priority. Most doctors realize this; nonetheless, it doesn’t stop them from getting bogged down in distractions. In last week’s article, I touched on the first five of 10 time wasters in many dental offices. Below are five more:

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: Several times a day you and your staff are repeating the same things to patients. Make use of “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) sheets. These can be incorporated into your patient education protocols. For example, if you are now offering implants, pay attention to questions that patients are asking about the procedure and put them in a question/answer format. Print a few of these and make them available in the reception area, treatment rooms, as well as the practice website. 

Meeting Free-For-All: Staff meetings, in addition to the morning huddle, can be huge time wasters if they are run poorly. It’s imperative that doctor and staff set aside two hours a month for the business meeting, and they must have a clear plan for success. Staff meetings must be directed by a clearly defined agenda. Assign each staff member the responsibility of reporting on their particular system at the meeting. This ensures that everyone, not just the doctor, has responsibility for communicating what is happening with specific practice systems.

For example, the Scheduling Coordinator reports on:
1. The number of new patients scheduled for the month.
2. The number of new patients actually seen.
3. The number of emergency patients scheduled for the month.
4. The number of emergency patients treated for the month.
5. The number and dollar amount of unscheduled time units for the month.
6. Office supply expenses for the month compared to collections.
7. The number of patients with unscheduled treatment.

Opportunity Lost: Don’t let treatment slip away. Mrs. Jones is scheduled for a 40-minute procedure with the doctor but calls at 9am to cancel her 10 o’clock appointment due to illness. Two hygienists are treating patients down the hall; both patients have unscheduled treatment diagnosed. Seize the opportunity to fill the doctor’s schedule by offering to “just take care of that procedure today,” so that the patient doesn’t have to schedule another appointment for treatment. As soon as the patient cancels, the scheduling coordinator alerts the dental team to the cancellation and subsequent treatment opportunity, and the clinical staff can determine how to proceed. 

The Latest Great Idea: The doctor attends a major dental meeting and returns positively beaming with excitement and unbridled enthusiasm. The doctor wants to implement everything s/he has learned immediately. My advice: STOP! Before you waste valuable time in an attempt to implement the latest and greatest new management or treatment strategy in your practice, do your homework. Carefully consider how the change will affect the patients, the schedule, the team, and the practice profits. Seriously consider if the changes can and should be made without the guidance of competent outside professionals. After all, you want to ensure that those “great ideas” are properly implemented and don’t result in more time-wasting frustration.

Stress: Stress is a huge time waster, and it is largely the result of multiple practice inefficiencies. Dentists and teams can significantly reduce stress if they choose to change the things they can. Take these steps:

1. List the stressors starting with those issues that are most intense. Develop a plan of action to address the sources of stress through a procedure or system.
2. Clearly define staff roles and responsibilities.
3. Train your team to ensure they are prepared to carry out their responsibilities and succeed in the position.
4. Improve communications. If you are stressed out because cancellations and no-shows have been on record pace the last few months, rest assured your team is worried too. Talk about the situation as a team and together develop strategies to address it.

As the cliché goes, Time is Money. That couldn’t be truer than in today’s dental practice. Pay attention to how time and money are wasted in your practice. Seek help. System inefficiencies can be changed and improved - dramatically in many cases. I guarantee it will not only save you valuable time and reduce your stress, but it will significantly improve your practice profits.

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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